Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Operation Market Garden game done the right way

The Elhiem OMG game
Operation Market Garden has always captured the imagination of many wargamers and historians as a tragic 'could have been' battle. It only stands to reason that many wargamers, ourselves included, have replayed this battle in some form or other on our wargames tables.

The [Elhiem gang](http://www.elhiem.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/), a bunch of dedicated 20mm gamers, have done it in style, however. They set up a 20mm megagame of the entire Operation Market Garden -- see the [game report here](http://www.elhiem.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/game.html).

This is truly mouth watering stuff, the stuff wargamer's dreams are made of. Well done, guys!

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Wings of War hex modifications

These are the basic modifications we used for our hex based version of Wings of War. Obviously, they lack the principal item -- the hex based cards themselves. This is for two reasons:
  • The cards for the small tables are not done yet
  • I'm not sure whether I can publish these cards, copyright wise -- but I'll check.
For now, here's the few modifications we used:


Movement is done using the new hex based maneuver cards. There are two sets of cards:
  • A version for small tables (or tables with large hexes)
  • A version for bigger tables
The two versions differ in the single fact that the small table cards have had the first hex of all movement arrows removed, so in a pinch the bigger table version can be used for a smaller table by ignoring the first red (or blue in the case of a Split S) hex.

Planes are always oriented towards hex sides, not vertices.

Firing range

Short range is 3 hexes, long range is 6 hexes.

Firing arc

The firing arc is found by drawing two lines from the center of the hex out through the vertices left and right of the hex side towards which the plane is facing. Hexes bisected by this line count as part of the firing arc.

The firing arc for rear gunners is the same from the rear of the hex, but excluding the hexes directly behind the plane.

__Update__: the up to date version of these rules now live on the main site [here](http://www.nirya.be/snv/rules/wings_of_war_hexified_1.html)

Friday, 25 August 2006

Phil's History, Part 5

Part 5 of my personal quest for the ultimate gaming experience! (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4).

After spending quite some years dealing with fantasay roleplaying, fantasy miniature wargaming and card games, I think it was in the fall of 1996 that I was looking for something new. I had finished my Ph.D. earlier that september, and so I had again a lot of time on my hands (writing a Ph.D. is hard work!).

I had always been fascinated by toy soldiers and historical miniature wargaming, but it was rather difficult to get good material for it. Most of the hobby shops sold lots of fantasy-related gaming materials, but historicals were much more difficult to find. The mid-nineties changed that, of course, due to the availablity of the internet for everyone. Although I had been on the net since 1988 or so, it was only around 1996 that people not connected to universities gained mass access. Hence, a lot of sites were created on which historical miniature wargaming was featured.

One of the rules I had bought at that time a very simple Napoleonic ruleset by Barry Edwards. It focused mainly on the Peninsular War, but everything was good at this point. Dusting off some old Airfix figures, I fielded my very first historical miniature game (all I had done before that was fantasy and SF) in the gaming room of the Lonely Mountain shop in Leuven. This proved to be a complete new experience. We were playing with rules in which you only had 3 types of troops, as opposed to the zillions of different types in fantasy games, combat resolution didn't involve buckets of dice, and we felt we actually were doing something historical ;-)

So, for the next 2 years we repeated the experience and experimented with many different rulesets: Shootist for Wild West skirmish games, Rapid Fire, Crossfire, Spearhead, Brother vs Brother, Paragon Aerial combats, Probsub (aka 'They shot the whale'), Fire and Steel, Tactica, DBA, Principles of War a.o. We also still played many F/SF games, but the GW days were gone for good: Fantasy Rules, Dirtside, Full Thrust, Star Wars, etc. We even managed to invent games ourselves. The now legendary Aquazone is still fondly remembered! Games were played almost every Tuesday in the Lonely Mountain in Leuven, and ended well past 1am, after which the hard-core gang often went to the kebab-place a few houses down the street to hold a serious debriefing. Rarely did I show up in the lab before noon the following day :-)

For me, this period ended in the summer of 98, when I moved to the USA. These days, we call those crazy 2 years 'The Golden age of Schild en Vriend', because many of us had plenty of time on our hands (pursuing a Ph.D. allows you a lot of free time of you don't have to write :-)), and most of us were still single. This ideal mix proved to be very fruitful, and many of our current game sessions and game ideas somehow can trace a lineage back to that period.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Dogfight over Flanders

We had another "Schild & Vriend Revivial Game" this month, this time organized by Bart Vetters, and hosted as usual at Phil's Gaming Attic. Again, Eddy Sterckx was so kind to provide us with a gaming report:

Wings of War at Phil's place

Last night, at what is already becoming a fine tradition, we had another game in Phil's attic.

Bart had adapted the Wings of War (WWI dogfighting) system to work on hexes and we were ready to try it out in a series of dogfights : Tommies versus Jerries. As the dogfights throughout the night unfolded it would mostly come down to 1-1 fights between a slow moving, highly maneuverable versus a fast moving, slow turning plane.

The system basically is about guessing where your opponent will be next turn, picking the right three maneuver cards and hope you can get a shot in. Damage done can go all the way from a tiny hole in the wing canvas (0 points damage) to a bullet through the pilot's head (game over)

The first round immediately taught us the important lesson that given the size-constraints of the terrain you better plan ahead ... carefully ... very carefully. Over the evening more planes were lost due to flying “out of bounds” then to enemy fire. This especially proved to be a disadvantage for the faster planes who were often reduced to: fly straight ahead - Immelmann - fly straight ahead in the other direction kind of tactics. A brilliant suggestion to reduce the distance flown by one hex managed to remedy this in one stroke: the third round felt correct with real dogfights going on across the boards. I think that everyone agreed that this single correction made the system 99% playable as is, no further tinkering required, though a bigger board and missions (photographing / bombing / strafing) would add to the variety.

Now as to the question of which plane is better : the slow movers / hard turners or the fast movers / slow turners opinion is still divided, we'll probably need another game-night like this to really get to grips with the system. So as Frank would say : Ze Red Baron vill fly again !